DOE Throws $154 Million Down A Texas Hole

The United States Department of Energy has sunk $154 million into a carbon capture and sequestration project in Texas proposed by NRG Energy near Houston. The “demonstration” project will be built on their existing Parish Generating Station in Thompsons, TX (one of the biggest and dirtiest coal plants in Texas and the United States). The project will only be capturing 60 megawatts worth of CO2 from the plant – or 400,000 metric tons of CO2 annually. In comparison the Parish plant currently generates 2,697 megawatts of power and releases over 21 million tons of CO2 every year. Also keep in mind that the CO2 from this “capture” process will be used in what’s called “Enhanced Oil Recovery” meaning that the CO2 being sequestered will be partially offset by the CO2 released when the resulting oil is burned. And even industry analysts have said that between 35-50% of the CO2 solution used in EOR comes back up during the oil recovery process, with this carbon being released back into the atmosphere.

You can read more about it in this article. Aside from the small, “demonstration” aspects of this project, as I’ve already talked about in a previous post, carbon capture and sequestration is a pipe dream anyway. It’s too expensive, the technology is too far away from full scale implementation, and most importantly, the amount of space needed to safely sequester all the CO2 from all the country’s coal plants just doesn’t exist.

Even if it did work, it would take years to implement and even begin capturing the CO2 emissions from coal plants – and that’s time we don’t have. The best way to sequester carbon is by not releasing it from the coal in the first place. None of this carbon capture technology does anything to address the other toxic emissions, or the environmental impacts (including carbon footprint) of mining the coal, transporting it, or disposing of its waste.

Why is the Obama administration, or anyone in Washington, being allowed to squander away millions of our tax dollars on a technology that won’t work? Why isn’t this money going to solutions we know work like energy efficiency measures and solar power? Why you ask? Well, this might have something to do with it.  This is just another slice of government pork designed to bail out an industry that knows it won’t be able to compete in the new clean energy economy.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.